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Publisher's Summary

The association between our ancestors and fire, somewhere around four to six million years ago, had a tremendous impact on human evolution, transforming our earliest human ancestor, a being communicating without speech but with insight, reason, manual dexterity, highly developed social organization, and the capability of experimenting with this new technology. As it first associated with and then began to tame fire, this extraordinary being began to distance itself from its primate relatives, taking a path that would alter its environment, physiology, and self-image.

Based on her extensive research with nonhuman primates, anthropologist Frances Burton details the stages of the conquest of fire and the systems it affected. Her study examines the natural occurrence of fire and describes the effects light has on human physiology. She constructs possible variations of our earliest human ancestor and its way of life, utilizing archaeological and anthropological evidence of the earliest human-controlled fires to explore the profound physical and biological impacts fire had on human evolution.

©2009 Frances D. Burton (P)2012 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"With great detail and concise arguments, this well-sourced work will fascinate armchair scientists with an interest in anthropology and evolution." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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More than Fire

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I think the author went off on a few tangents that were not necessary or beneficial to providing more points for the importance of fire in human evolution. It seems like there were a few chapters focusing on fire itself while the others filled in some more details about human evolution like the importance of language and the environment in which adaptations occurred.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Spoiler Alert: humans evolved!

What three words best describe Michael Scherer’s voice?

Clear but dry

Do you think Fire: The Spark That Ignited Human Evolution needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I'm not sure about a follow-up book but the concepts can definitely expand as more archaeological evidence is found.

Any additional comments?

As a student of anthropology I found this book to be insightful into a field I want to work in. It is by no means a tell all in human evolution but it does look at a small sliver of what lead to the modern human. It is obvious that fire was important but concepts like the impact on melatonin production in the body was a concept I found very interesting.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 11-22-14

Not bad

What made the experience of listening to Fire: The Spark That Ignited Human Evolution the most enjoyable?

The vast amount of information from various scientific disciplines. A true eye-opener.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Fire: The Spark That Ignited Human Evolution?

It's difficult to pick one.

Have you listened to any of Michael Scherer’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, I have not but I'm going to.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It's not that kind of book